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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Introduction

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright (Collins, 2008). Reviewed by Steve Gladis.

If I could give two books to anyone concerned with organizational development, I’d hand them Tribal Leadership and The Three Laws of Performance—both of which have Dave Logan as a principal author. This article will focus on Tribal Leadership because I’ve reviewed The Three Laws previously on my blog (Survival Leadership).

Overview: In Tribal Leadership Dave Logan et al offer us an organizational development manual for successfully managing tribes. After 10 years studying over 24,000 people, Logan and his team speak with some real authority. The authors first teach us some basics about organizations. Any organization with at least 20 and up to 150 people is a tribe. These tribes are more powerful than leaders, and they decide if the new leader will flourish or get undermined. Ultimately, the tribes even decide on productivity. Indeed, Logan describes 5 levels of tribes that range from dysfunctional (Stage 1: Life Sucks) to world class (Stage 5: Life is great). Tribes move through stages and tend to overrate their levels. But great leaders can 1) listen for which cultures exist in their tribes and 2) move or nudge tribes to the next level in this hierarchy of organization through their actions and language. The key to getting to the highest levels of performance and satisfaction is establishing values and a noble cause. These can’t be perfunctory words, but must be a critical set of living values that shape how companies hire, fire and promote people.

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